School books designed to give children experience in reading handwriting
This paper provides evidence for an approach to the teaching of reading in the mid nineteenth century that gave children practice in reading handwritten texts. It focuses on two French readers that were originally published in Paris around 1840. In both publications passages of text appear in different forms of writing and become progressively more cursive and less legible. The intention was to introduce children to the varied forms of handwriting they would meet in real-life situations, particularly in commerce. The technical developments that made it practicable to produce such books, especially transfer lithography, are discussed, as are the publications themselves. It is suggested that there might be value in adopting a similar approach to teaching reading by introducing children to material set in the wide range of types and with the varied spacing commonly found today.
Published online: 01 January 1996